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James Close: Serving up a treat close to every woman's heart

A peak into a closely-guarded recipe book at the Raby Hunt Restaurant turns up a delicious chocolate and orange dessert

Blood Orange and Chocolate Delice
Blood Orange and Chocolate Delice

In my last Taste article for The Journal I wrote about the food of love – oysters.

Having had lots of feedback from readers, I’ve since learned that there is no truer love than that reserved for chocolate. It actually checks out scientifically, too. I’ve done my research and found scientists saying that the brain’s pleasure response can be measured through the eyes and apparently chocolate triggers the biggest reaction.

Apparently it is considered healthy in the correct quantities and again the science geeks – the ones I found, anyway – point to one reason behind women experiencing less heart disease than men. It is due to their love of chocolate. So they say.

You may know by now that I’ve been lucky enough to visit a multitude of restaurants in Europe, including Belgium and Germany, and that’s really where my love of chocolate started.

The Belgians invented pralines in 1912 and if you ever visit you will see just how many shops are dedicated to selling these hedonistic treats.

Many of you will have heard of Godiva, founded in Brussels in the 1920s and now the world’s most iconic chocolatier.

But you don’t need to go too far in the UK to find some of the world’s most inventive and creative chocolatiers. Guys like William Curley, who grew up in Fife, has been named Britain’s Best Chocolatier four times.

We’re not quite in the same league as that but we do try. Ryan Bunker, our pastry chef at the Raby Hunt, has long had a passion for fine desserts.

This week I managed to persuade Ryan to let me have a look inside his recipe book (something he hides even from me) where my eye fell on one of his truly gorgeous chocolate desserts.

This used to be on our menu in the early days at the Raby but now it’s considered a special treat for staff lunches.


150g Feuilletine flakes (find these in many cake shops)

200g Hazelnut praline paste

Mix together and press into a round cake mould and set in the fridge for an hour.

490ml Whipping cream

280ml Whole milk

Bring to the boil in a pan

3 eggs

Whisk and add the hot milk and cream

Add in 510g of 70% cocoa solids, dark chocolate (get the best you can)

Stir thoroughly and add the mixture to the base you have set aside in the fridge.

Put the whole thing in the fridge for 12 hours.

500ml Blood orange juice (use normal oranges if you can’t find blood)

Add half a vanilla pod, split and scraped into a pan.

Reduce the orange juice/vanilla juice by half to 250ml.

Add 404g sugar and bring back up to the boil

Add 6g of gelatine and 50g of dark chocolate

Pour over the set mixture in the fridge.

Leave to set again in the fridge for a few hours.

Then share... or eat it by yourself!


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer